I had to put 7 on the 7th day...
Jen Hatmaker's book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess was a book I had on my TBR (To Be Read) shelf for over a year before I read it. I could not bring myself to push past the introduction! It was also one of those books that EVERYONE was reading, and I have this thing about the book bandwagon; I rebel against it quite often (that's why I have yet to read The Shack). Adding to this personal glitch, I had been bombarded with minimalism stuff (blogs, sayings, "Look how much I donated this week and I feel so free" posts on Facebook, etc.) from several online friends, none of whom knew each other but all of whom were espousing the minimalism movement.
Needless to say, it's one of those books I had to be in the correct mindset to read.
Enter Summer 2014. I had not been hired (neither for the two full-time jobs I'd applied and interviewed for, nor the writing position I probably had zero chance of getting in the first place--but I was still hurt when I was rejected). Enrollment was down, so I wasn't given a class to teach over summer term. I was feeling pretty rejected and low. We extended our Alaska tour for another year after answering the call to save money on OCONUS moves due to last year's sequestration and government shutdown. (We're saving your tax dollars; you're welcome.) My joblessness and availability gave me two months to go through our belongings during what I now call the Pre-PCS Purge of 2014. Then my friend Dana offered an online book club on Facebook to read the book together. She had read the book before, so I took her up on her offer. Thank you, accountability! Thus, the time was right for me to read 7.
I wasn't sure I was willing to do the same project Jen Hatmaker had done, but I thought about it and realized I could do a 7-week fast from something difficult during the course of reading this book. Thus, I fasted for 7 weeks from purchasing books. That was hard.
(I ended the fast at Powell's Books in Portland during our short trip to Oregon this summer, which was pretty fun.)
Why is this book on my list for October's 31 books? Well, it's because the book grabbed me and held me and got into my mind. I may never be a minimalist, but I'm learning how much emotion is tied to my belongings and how much courage it takes to let things go. Basically, even three months later, I'm trying to listen to the rest of the story. The rest of what God's telling me. It's not just our excessive stuff. It's the hold that stuff has on me. Emotional ties to the little things that may not take up much drawer space, but somehow they are heavy all by themselves.
PS: We did get rid of a LOT of stuff this summer--clothes, household items, collectibles. We consigned, donated, downsized, and otherwise minimized our belongings. Yes, it's freeing. I can now understand more of what my minimalist friends were talking about for the past couple of years. I'm grateful I had this summer to do it, because I have not had time to do much of this since school started. I'm substitute teaching twice as often as last year, for one thing!